Election games: Akhilesh plays Muslims with the Sachar Report
- The 2006 Sachar Committee report found that Indian Muslims were in a bad state
- Their social, economic and educational conditions were poor
- It recommended special provisions and schemes for Muslims, proportionate to their population
- The UP govt wants implement the Sachar report and give 20% reservation to the state\'s 18% Muslims
- This is despite the Parliament and the Centre not passing a Constitutional amendment
- The reservation will be not just in jobs, but in tenders and state govt schemes too
- Opposition alleges this is a move to consolidate the Muslim vote in SP\'s favour
- The state BJP says it will challenge this move in court
- BSP says SP & BJP have conspired together to try and benefit from divisive politics
In a purely symbolic move that is bound to be challenged in court, the Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government is planning to implement the recommendations of Sachar Committee report on minorities.
Though, the report's implementation has been pending for a long time in Parliament and a Constitutional amendment is needed to pass the recommendations, the UP government wants to go ahead with it.
The Sachar Committee
The Sachar Committee was formed in 2005 to do a proper study and prepare a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India.
The committee, headed by Justice (retired) Rajinder Sachar, submitted the report to the Prime Minister of India on 17 November 2006.
The committee highlighted that a majority of Muslims in India are in a bad state. The committee found that the percentage of Muslims in schools, urban accommodations, government jobs, and with accessibility to loan and credit benefits were very low. They were also poorly represented in the civil services, police and army.
The committee recommended special provisions and schemes, which could help Indian Muslims gain representation and facilities proportionate to their population.
Akhilesh's government has already decided to implement the recommendations. It is currently working on the scope and areas of implementation.
The grand design
More than 18% of Uttar Pradesh's vast population is Muslim. And the state government is planning to give the community 20% reservation.
Rajendra Chaudhary, the cabinet minister in charge of political pensions and a close aide of the CM, told Catch: "We can't implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee without the Constitutional amendment and that is responsibility of the central government.
"However, keeping the recommendations in mind, we are planning to give 20% reservation to the minorities in the state. This includes giving them reservations in job opportunities, tenders, development/construction works and other state government schemes. Whatever is possible in the state's capacity, we will do."
The decision comes around 18 months before the crucial 2017 state assembly elections.
The opposition alleges that this is nothing but vote bank appeasement politics. They are opposing the move and saying that the report has to be implemented at the Centre first, and that It is not right and to do this without the Constitutional amendment.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Swamy Prasad Maurya told Catch: "They (Samajwadi Party) are experts in fooling people. Before the 2012 assembly elections, they promised in their manifesto that they will give 18% reservation to the minority. It has been almost four years [since they came to power] but nothing has been done. If they are really serious about the minorities, why didn't they act earlier?"
More than 18% of UP's population is Muslim. And the state govt is planning to give them 20% reservation
BJP state president Laxmikant Vajpayee said the move was against the Constitution.
"They are working against the Constitution of India. People should understand that banning DJ music in Kaawar Yatras and then coming up with the proposal to implement the Sachar Committee recommendations - it's clear whom they want to appease and for what," he told Catch.
Opposition plans counterattack
The decision may not have been implemented, but the opposition has already decided to counter the move on all fronts.
BJP's Vajpayee said: "Whatever orders they issue, it will be challenged in the court immediately. This is against the spirit of the Constitution. Reservation on the basis of religion is banned."
Some are doubting the intention of the move, while others question the timing. BSP's Maurya said: "This is just laffazi (verbosity). They did it before the 2012 elections and they succeeded in cheating the Muslim voters.
"Again, as the elections are coming closer, they are playing these tricks to fool the voters because they have done nothing for the betterment of the state. They don't have any achievements to mention while speaking to the voters."
Chaudhary defended his government. "We are not implementing the committee's report. The recommendations are the standard for us. We will work according to the spirit of the report. There are no violations of the rules and the Constitution; we are following what is allowed under the Constitution of India."
Attempt to consolidate
A majority of Muslims in UP have voted for the Samajwadi Party over the last 25 years.
The turning point was the 1990 Ram Janmabhoomi movement. SP honcho Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister at the time, and took strong decisions to stop the attempts to damage the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
Since then, he has been projected as the messiah of UP's Muslims. The community is a major contributor to the votes Samajwadi Party has receieved ever since.
The latest development is being seen as an attempt to consolidate the Muslim vote, which is slipping away from the party after the Muzaffarnagar riots and other communal clashes, where the community suffered while the SP was in power.
"They have lost credibility. Now, they are attempting to polarise voters in the state. This will benefit both, the SP and the BJP. This is a joint strategy by both the parties. They together hatched the conspiracy behind the in the state to divert the voters from the key issues and derive maximum benefit out of it," says BSP leader Munkad Ali.
"Both parties have gained from such attempts earlier. This is a repeat attempt. However, we will expose them and not let them do such kind of politics in the state."
Even the voices within the SP are divided over the move. One senior leader said, "The polarisation will help the BJP more, it seems. We have been already doing many outstanding things for the community. We need to check the repercussions before making a move."